The rain is lashing down outside and I have the central heating turned on. I long for the scorching heat of a holiday in the Greek islands, with enough cheap pink wine to sink a ship, sandy beaches and Euro pop blaring out of cafes and rolled-down taxi windows. I want to go to a cheesy nightclub where they serve dreadful cocktails containing weird mixtures of blue curacao, Baileys and cream (urgh!) and dance the night away. One of my happiest memories is being on holiday in Naxos years ago and being brought glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice and little deep-fried cheese pies to where we wallowed on our sun loungers – total bliss. Right now, I want food to remind me of all of this, so I’ll settle for a slab of spinach and feta pie, spanakopita.
Cooking holiday food is a good way to lift a gloomy autumnal day, and to be honest, a piece of this feta and spinach pie is good all year round. It’s pretty easy to make, as you don’t need to make the pastry, you use shop-bought filo.
You will need:
1kg bag frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
2 medium white onions, chopped into small dice
2 bunches spring onions, chopped into small pieces
1 bunch each of fresh dill (approx 25g), mint and parsley, finely chopped
4 large organic eggs
400g feta cheese
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 packet frozen filo pastry, 270g – defrost before use
Put your defrosted spinach into a saucepan and cook almost all the water out of it over a medium flame – takes about 20 minutes. While you are doing this, shallow-fry your chopped white onion until translucent, then add the chopped spring onions and cook until wilted, about five minutes. Set aside, with the spinach.
Beat the eggs together, then add the ricotta and crumble the feta into the same bowl. Add the nutmeg and a few grinds of salt (go easy, as feta is salty anyway) and pepper, and roughly mix together.
Tip in the chopped fresh herbs. Add the spinach and fried onions as soon as they are cool, then mix everything together.
Grease a rectangular baking dish with olive oil. Line the dish with two layers of filo, making sure to brush in between each layer of pastry with olive oil, then add half the spinach/cheese filling, then add another two layers of filo on top of this, with olive oil brushed between them, then repeat, adding the rest of the filling, then finishing with 2 layers of filo pastry to make the top. Generously brush the top of the pie with more olive oil. You can roughly fold in the edges, and don’t have to be neat about it.
Bake in a preheated oven at 180C, for about 35 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown on top. Serve wedges of pie with a nice tomato salad and a carafe of wine. Darned good!